George Frederick Handel

Born in Germany in 1685, George Frederick Handel moved to England in 1712

His various compositions were successful but eventually financial failure threatened to overwhelm him, and his relentless attempts to keep solvent had an adverse affect on his health. By 1741 it seemed certain he would land in debtors’ prison.

Yet that very year became the turning point for him when his close friend, Charles Jennens, gave him a libretto for a sacred work. It was essentially 73 Bible verses focusing on the prophecies concerning, and the coming of, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, both from the Old and New Testaments.

A charity in Dublin paid him to write something for a money-raising performance, and for 24 days Handel barely ate as he worked almost constantly composing. In fact he told a friend he could barely keep up with the notation as the melodies and ideas flowed from within, directly from God Himself! At one point, the composer had tears in his eyes and cried out to his servant, “I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God Himself!” He had just finished writing the “Hallelujah” chorus.

Every word was from the Bible, 42 verses from the Old Testament and 31 from the New Testament. The “Messiah” was first performed in Dublin on April 13, 1742, to great acclaim.   It was so successful, it’s said that it’s proceeds freed 142 men from debtors’ prison!

Someone has said that Handel was a relentless optimist whose faith in God sustained him through every difficulty.

To God alone be the glory!

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Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

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